Dexa Scan

Author: OncoLink Team
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What is a dexa scan?

Dexa scan, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry or a bone mineral density scan, is a radiology test that uses x-rays to measure the density (or strength) of the bones. Most often, the test is used to examine the bones in the hips and spine, though it can also be used to examine other bones.

A dexa scan is used to diagnose osteoporosis (bone loss). This test is often performed in postmenopausal women as a screening test for osteoporosis or to evaluate bone health after a diagnosis or injury. 

How do I prepare for a dexa scan?

There is no special preparation for a dexa scan. If you take vitamins or calcium supplements, you may be asked not to take them for 24 hours prior to the scan. You may have to put on a gown and will likely be asked to remove any jewelry or metal objects that may interfere with the images. 

Inform your doctor or the technologist if you think that you may be pregnant.

How is this test performed?

How the test is performed depends on what part of your body is being scanned. To image bones like the hip and spin you will lie down on a padded table. A scanner will pass over the area of your body being evaluated. You must hold very still for the scan. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds while the x-rays are turned on. To do a dexa scan on your finger, hand, forearm or foot it may be placed into a small device which takes pictures. 

The scan takes 10-30 minutes. You won’t feel anything during the scan. 

How do you receive the results of your dexa scan?

Once the scan is complete, a radiologist will interpret the findings and report them to your provider. Your provider will discuss the results with you.

References

RadiologyInfo.org Bone Densitometry (DEXA, DXA). 2020. Found at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=dexa 

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